Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Funny

 Not sure if this is real or ‘smart’ but definitely a fun thought for a Friday!  Now you can keep your "style" while driving "smart."


Introducing the Smart Car full body kit!!

Go from this...

To one of these!!

The Smorvette!

The Smaudi A3 AWD!

The Smamborghini!

The Smorsche!

The Smorsche Targa!

And last, but not least,

The Smerrari!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tree Thursday - Live Oak

Live Oak
Quercus virginiana

Twenty years ago last week, South Florida was devastated by Hurricane Andrew.  One of my first thoughts as I toured South Dade County was “where’s the green?” The trees left standing were stripped of all leaves.  One tree species that did exceptional well was the Live Oak.  The strength and longevity of the Live Oak is, at least in part, due to its slow growth.  The slow growth allows for the development of strong wood.  The common name, Live Oak, is a reference to it retaining its leaves year round. 

Live oak is native to the SE coastal plain from Virginia to Texas, and in Cuba and isolated locales in Mexico. It grows best in fertile hardwood hammocks with moist, but sandy and well-drained soils.  Probably the ultimate southern shade tree. Live oak tolerates auto exhaust and forms stately "canopy roads" in southern cities. A majestic and very beautiful southern American tree.

Live oak is a very long-lived tree. Its life is measured in centuries. The wood is very hard and strong. Dried live oak wood weighs 55 lbs. per cubic foot, making its wood among the heaviest of any tree in North America. There is no better wood for fuel or for charcoal cooking. During the hey-day of wooden sailing ships, the US navy bought large tracts of live oak for the exclusive use of the government's ship builders. The massive, durable arching limbs were sought for ship's ribs and knees. The live oak is the state tree of Georgia.

The Live Oak is a common, maybe too common, street tree in South Florida.  The Live Oak is a wonderful tree but is being overplanted that could result in future problems with insects and diseases. 

Height: 60 to 80 feet
Spread: 60 to 120 feet
Growth rate: slow to moderate

Drought tolerance: high
Salt tolerance: high

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

8 Walking Tips

After being trapped indoors for a while, it’s time to get out and walk! 

8 Walking Tips

I get that you know how to walk, but do you know how to walk correctly?

By Josh Peterson
Los Angeles, CA, USA | Mar 23 2009
 Moving in a bipedal fashion is one of the ways we can replace our carbon footprint with our actual footprint. Using those strange, foot-adorned sticks that we call legs as an all-natural method of transportation is a green way of getting to point B from point A.
When you walk, there are a few things you must consider in order to keep your feet and body safe and in good health. Here are a few tips.
  1. Wear Proper Shoes
    Proper shoes makes walking more comfortable. Feet that don't hurt are more likely to get used. Therefore, wear proper shoes, and you won't wear out. Check out this
    list of walking shoes.
  2. Learn to walk properly
    From The Palo Alto Medical Center:
    • Keep your chin up and your shoulders back.
    • Walk so that the heel of your foot touches the ground first, then roll your weight forward.
    • Swing your arms as you walk; this increases the intensity of your walking.
    • Start and finish with a few minutes of gentle stretching.
    • Think of your walk as having three parts: start with 5 minutes of slow walking, then increase your pace (walking uphill requires more effort), and end with 5 minutes of slower walking. Warming up gradually increases your heart rate and improves blood flow to your muscles. Cooling down allows the heart rate and muscles to return to normal.
    • Do a "Talk Test" you should be able to maintain a conversation with your buddy without getting winded. If you can't, slow down a bit.

  1. Stay Hydrated
    Drink water, but not bottled water. Carry a reusable Water bottle.
  2. Safety First
    Stick to clean, well-lit places.
  3. Notify Others
    If you’re walking a great distance, it’s best to let others know what you’re up to in case anything happens.
  4. Find a Friend
    If you are walking to lose weight, there is nothing better than a friend to motivate you and encourage you.
  5. Dress for the Occasion
    If it is hot, wear a hat and
    proper sun block. In the winter, wear a few small layers so you can adjust your temperature as necessary.
  6. Pack an a Spare Shirt
    If you are commuting by foot, make sure to bring a change of clothes and some
    all-natural deodorant.

Monday, August 27, 2012

NatureScape Broward Seminar Scheduled September 5

It’s a great program to learn how to landscape your yard the Florida-Friendly way!

NatureScape Broward Seminar Scheduled September 5
DATE: August 22, 2012
CONTACT: Diana Guidry, Broward County
Natural Resources Planning and Management
PHONE: 954-519-0317
The Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management Division will hold a free four-hour NatureScape workshop Wednesday, September 5, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fern Forest Nature Center, 201 S. Lyons Road, Coconut Creek. The public is encouraged to attend.

The workshop will show residents ways to create and maintain a NatureScape yard, focusing on such topics as sustainable landscapes that conserve water, protect water quality and provide valuable wildlife habitat. Topics include landscape design, native plants, irrigation, attracting birds and butterflies, maintenance tips and more.

Preregistration is required by calling 954-519-1470 or emailing For directions to Fern Forest Nature Center, call 954-357-5198.

NatureScape Broward is a program of the Broward County Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department and is part of its Water Matters outreach initiative. The NatureScape program aims to reduce the amount of water used for irrigation and improve the quality of Broward's water resources by encouraging the use of Florida-friendly landscape practices.

For more information on NatureScape Broward, call Diana Guidry at 954-519-0317 or visit

Released by the Office of Public Communications
954-357-6990 * Fax: 954-357-6936

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Trash 2 ART 2012

 For more information:

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

5 Reuses for Orange Peels

by Sheila Shaigany          Sept 10, 2008

Growing up, my mother always came up with creative ways to reuse household objects - ones that my father would, in typical fashion, refer to as "all junk." Her biggest cause was probably saving orange peels from getting dumped in the trash. Thanks to her eco-friendly instincts back in the day, I can now think of close to 50 different uses for an orange peel, instead of just throwing it away. Here are five of my favorites:
My mother's favorite way to save orange peels from the trash was to cook them into an Orange Peel Jam. It only takes 4 orange's worth of peels to make a small jar of this breakfast favorite! Just follow these simple steps:
Scrape the white part of the peels off with a knife, wash them, and cut them into long thin slices. Pour them into a pot along with water and sugar. Boil the mixture until it has a medium thick consistency, not too liquidy but still juicy. Finally, add a few drops of vanilla extract and lemon juice. All that's left is to put it in a jar and store it in the fridge.
Also, Orange zest complements a variety of dishes, particularly grilled chicken, rice and soup. In one of my mother's signature Persian dishes, she would add sliced almonds and cooked orange peel (same as the jam process) into plain rice. In Farsi, it translated into "Sweet Rice," and everyone fought over it at the dinner table. If you're feeling super adventurous, dip chunks of cooked orange peel into a pot of melted chocolate, and put it into the fridge to harden. Chocolate orange peel has the most delicious taste and unique combination of sweet and bitter. On a personal note—it's my ideal desert.
Insect Repellant
Rub orange peel onto your skin, and I promise you the bugs will stay away. It's perfect for anyone who likes to sleep at night with the windows open. And even more perfect if you've got a special someone next to you in bed—your skin will smell diviiiiiine! Hmmm hmmmm...
Room Freshener
Every year during the holidays, my mother would place orange peels onto the vents of our radiator. It filled the living room with the most delicious citrus scent that would last for hours. It worked way better than any chemical room spray/air freshener hazardous to the environment. If your house/apt is like mine—lacking in the "central air system" department—this is an effective and environmentally safe way to make your room smell absolutely scrumptious.
Protect Your Plants
From you cats (and dogs) that is. Rub the orange peel onto your plant leaves once a month, and the pets will stick to eating their own food.
Brown Sugar
Has your Brown sugar gotten too dry and grainy? Slip a piece of orange peel into your sugar container and you'll have soft and fluffy sugar within hours. Orange peels emit moisture onto any object they touch. So if any of your spices/herbs have dried out from sitting too long in the cupboard, put a little moisture back into the air with an orange peel!
 Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Simple Ways to Detox Your Home

by Jana Ballinger Dec 17, 2008

A clean home is more than just sparkling countertops and well-vacuumed floors, it’s fresh-smelling and chemical-free too. Here are some easy ways to detox your home from Simply Green Parties by Danny Seo (HarperCollins Publishers, 2006).
1. Instead of using a synthetic air freshener to get rid of a smell, open a window or use an exhaust fan instead. Aerosol air fresheners emit volatile organic compounds, which can irritate your eyes and lead to headaches.
2. If your refrigerator has a drip pan, clean it out every month. The moisture in the pan can breed mold and other bacteria.
3. Use non-toxic cleaning supplies. Eco-friendly, all-purpose cleaners can now easily be found at major discount retailers and supermarket chains. The effectiveness has been improved and the prices have come down. To make cleaning even more appealing, add a few drops of essential oil to the bottle. While you clean, you’ll fill the room with a fresh, natural scent.
4. If you have central air conditioning, wipe down the vents where the air comes out. The dust that collects on the vents could recirculate when the air flows out.
5. Lose the vinyl shower curtain. Most shower curtains (including all liners) are polyvinyl chloride/PVC-based, which release chemical odors and gases into your house almost the second they are taken out of their packaging. They can continue to release these gases for years. A simple solution is to take a cue from hotel chains: Go nylon. These simple, white nylon shower curtains do not need a liner and are easy to clean–just unhook and throw into the washing machine. Good as new!
6. Ditch plastic plants for the real thing. In addition to being unsightly, silk plants are nothing more than dust catchers. A few houseplants–like ivy and even cacti–will help naturally filter the air in your home by absorbing bad gases and by giving back oxygen.
7. Microwave sponges. After washing the dishes, toss the wet sponge into the microwave and nuke it on high for about a minute. This will radiate all the bacteria away and make sure it’s germ-free for the next time you use it.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tree Thursday - Bulnesia

Bulnesia or Verawood
Bulnesia arborea

Verawood or Bulnesia trees are beautiful medium-sized flowering trees that you are seeing more and more of in South Florida.  This tree is in the same family as lignum vitae (Guaiacum sanctum).  Bulnesias bloom gorgeous butter-colored flowers at least seven months out of the year starting in April.  It does seem to have a much stronger root system than the Cassias that we are using Bulnesias to replace.  The Bulnesia’s wide, dense, round canopy makes it an excellent shade tree, and it responds well to pruning.

Bulnesia trees are native to coastal forests of Venezuela and Columbia and were introduced to South Florida by David Fairchild of Fairchild Tropical Gardens.  While in their native habitat, they can reach heights of 100 feet, the oldest one at Fairchild Tropical Gardens is only slightly over 30 feet.  In South America it is harvested for its wood (see picture below).  There are quite a few in bloom right now in the median of SW 4th Avenue just before State Road 84. 

Growth Rate: Slow to medium
Salt Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

11 Common Sense Low Energy Cooking Tips

Same Delicious Food, Less Energy Used

By Michael Graham Richard
Gatineau, Canada | Oct 26 2009
Every single week day, people come back home after a day of work and almost simultaneously start using lots of energy intensive-things; they turn on the television, the computer, turn on the lights if it's dark, they plug in their cell phones and gadgets... And then they start cooking food.
We're all getting more aware of our energy consumption when it comes to cars (hybrids and electric cars are getting more popular) and to lighting (compact fluorescents took over in only a few years), but most of us are still in the dark when it comes to energy-efficient cooking. Here's a few common sense tips to get your started on the road to low energy cooking.
1. Hot and Cold
The first thing that you should become aware of around the kitchen is hot & cold. It takes a lot of energy to cool something down, and it takes a lot of energy to heat it up. That's where the savings can be made.

For example, don't leave the fridge or freezer door open longer than necessary. When the cold air escapes, this means that your fridge or freezer will have to work overtime to bring the temperature back down. Conversely, don't use more hot water than you need to. Don't boil a big pan full of water if you only need a little bit!
2. Size Matters
When heating something, make sure that the heat actually goes where you want it to. This means that you should be careful to match your pots and pans to the appropriate burners on your range. Otherwise a lot of the energy you're using is just heating up the air in your kitchen (which can mean that the A/C has to work overtime in the summer, further wasting energy).

3. Consolidate: One-Pot-Meals are Your Friend
Another great low energy cooking tip is to cook one-pot meals such as casseroles, soups, stews and stir-fries. It's easy to see why they save energy compared to recipes that require you to use two, three or even 4 burners at the same time. You can find a variety of one pot meal ideas here.

4. Consolidate: Schedule Your Baking
Whenever possible try to bake multiple things at the same time if there's enough space in your oven and the recipes call for the same baking temperature, or one after the other all on the same day. That way you only have to warm up the oven once, and you benefit from the residual heat left over from the previous recipe.

5. Consider Getting a Slow-Cooker (aka Crock-Pot)
Probably the first thing that comes to mind when someone talks about low energy cooking, the good old crock-pot is hard to beat when it comes to making stew. You just need to make sure to set things up long enough before you need to eat since the cooking temperature is relatively low (that's what makes it so energy intensive). Here are a variety of crock pot recipes to try.

6. Consider Getting a Pressure Cooker
It allows you to cook food faster, without heating up your kitchen as much, and using less energy. Hard to argue against that! Pressure cooking works because as the air pressure increases inside the sealed pot, the boiling point of water decreases. Only the microwave is more energy efficient (and you can't do everything in the microwave).

7. Turn Off the Oven Before You Are Finished
Electricity stops flowing to your oven the moment you turn it off, but it will stay hot for a fairly long time after that (depending on how well insulated it is and how often you open the door). This is a good opportunity to save energy, especially with recipes that aren't too capricious about exact cooking time and temperature.

8. Keep Lids on Pots, Don't Open Your Oven Door
This one is self-explanatory. Every time you allow heat to escape, you'll have to use more electricity or gas.

9. Eat more Raw Foods
Salads, raw fruits and vegetables are definitely the best way to go from "low energy" to "no energy". Usually healthy food too, so dive in!

10. Use the Microwave When Appropriate
Microwaves are more energy efficient than stoves by a pretty large margin. They aren't appropriate for everything, but if there are things that you cook on the stove out of habit but that could just as well be done in the microwave, you should considering switching.

11. Cook Large Quantities, Then Reheat Leftovers
It's more efficient to make a huge lasagna (for example) and then re-heat leftovers for a while (especially in the microwave) than to make smaller lasagnas more often.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Don't Move Firewood: Use Local Firewood When Camping

If you're going camping, don't bring firewood with you. Tree-killing insects and diseases can lurk in firewood. These insects and diseases can't move far on their own, but when people move firewood they can jump hundreds of miles.
New infestations of invasive species destroy our forests, property values, and cost huge sums of money to control.
You can help save the forests by taking these simple steps:
  • Buy firewood near where you will burn it—that means the wood was cut within 50 miles of where you'll have your fire. 10 miles or closer is better. 
  • Always leave it at home, even if you think the firewood looks fine. Wood that looks clean and healthy can still have tiny insect eggs, or microscopic fungi spores, that will start a new and deadly infestation.
  • Aged or seasoned wood is still not safe. Just because it is dry doesn't mean that bugs can't crawl onto it.
  • Tell your friends not to bring wood with them—everyone needs to know that they should not move firewood.
Learn more about the problem and how to stop it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Spread Mulch Around Your Trees

In South Florida anytime is a good time to start using mulch, if you aren't already taking advantage of this natural, water- and chemical-saving staple of a healthy lawn and garden landscape.

By The Daily Green Staff

Mulch around your trees to save water and cut down on weeds.
Mulch is a thin layer of organic or inorganic material placed on soil. Some typical organic examples include chipped bark, compost, saw dust, grass clippings and leaf mold; a typical inorganic example is shredded tires. ("Organic" in this sense means derived from living things, not necessarily chemical-free; when purchasing mulch, look for the USDA-organic seal to buy pesticide-free mulch.) In many ways, spreading mulch around trees in a manicured yard re-creates the natural environment of a forest, where leaves fall, build up and gradually decompose on the forest floor.
Mulch cools the earth below in warm weather, and shields sensitive roots and plantings from the cold in the winter. Mulching holds in moisture, decreasing the amount of watering necessary — typically by hundreds of gallons a year. Mulches help protect tree roots, and while the organic varieties provide valuable fertilizer as they break down over time, the inorganic varieties are useful in some cases because they're more long-lived (and they often give new life to materials that might otherwise be landfilled or incinerated).
Mulches cut down on the number of weeds that can compete with your trees, making mulch part of an organic or integrated pest management yard and garden maintenance plan. The few weeds that do sprout can be pulled with ease.
Gardening experts recommend spreading mulch to a thickness of about two to four inches, but not more. (Over-mulching has become something of a fad.) Make sure to leave several inches of space between the mulch and the tree trunks to discourage rodents and rot. Replenish mulches when decomposition thins the mulch layer. While mulch can be applied at any time of year, late spring is the best time to get started with mulching around trees.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Funny


God: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature; what in the
world is going on down there in the U.S.? What happened to the
dandelions, violets, thistles and the stuff I started eons ago?

I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow
in any type of soil, withstand drought, and multiply with
abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts
butterflies, honeybees, and flocks of songbirds. I expected to
see a vast garden of color by now. All I see are patches of

St. Francis: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. They are
called the Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers
"weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them
with grass.

God: Grass?  But it is so boring, it's not colorful.  It doesn't
attract butterflies , bees or birds, only grubs and sod worms.
It's temperamental with temperatures.  Do these Suburbanites
really want grass growing there?

St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord.  As soon as it has grown a
little, they cut it....sometimes two times a week.

God: They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?

St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord.  Most of them rake it up and put
it in bags.

God: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

St. Francis: No sir, just the opposite.  They pay to throw it

God: Now let me get this straight...they fertilize it to make it
grow and when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it

St. Francis: Yes, sir.

God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the 
 winter  when we
cut back on the rain and turn  down
  the heat. That surely slows
the growth and saves them a lot of work.

St. Francis: You aren't going to believe this Lord, but when the
 grass stops growing so fast,  they turn on the irrigation  and pay more
money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get
rid of it.

God: What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees.
That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.
The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade
in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a
natural blanket to keep the moisture in the soil and protect the
trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves become compost
to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

St. Francis: You'd better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves
fall, the Suburbanites rake them into great piles and pay to
have them hauled away.

God: No way! What do they do to protect the shrubs and tree
roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

St Francis: After throwing the leaves away, they go out and buy
something called mulch. They haul it home and spread it around
in place of the leaves.

God: And where do they get this mulch?

St. Francis: They cut down the trees and grind them up to make

God: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore.
Saint Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have
you scheduled for us tonight?

St. Catherine: "Dumb and Dumber," Lord. It's a really stupid
movie about...

God: Never mind -I think I just heard the whole story from Saint
**************************************************************** "Wings Over The Mountains of Life"

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Park in the Shade

Decrease fuel lost to evaporation, reduce the need for a/c and stay more comfortable.

By Brian Clark Howard

During hot months, try to park your vehicle in a shady spot, which decreases the amount of fuel lost to evaporation and requires less air-conditioning when you get back in.
Gasoline evaporates rapidly, and even escapes from closed tanks. The process is sped up by high temperatures.
Keeping your vehicle cooler means you'll run your air conditioner less, resulting in a substantial savings in fuel. You'll be less likely to damage car contents from extreme heat, meaning you'll have fewer items to replace.
Also check out cardboard or shiny metallic windshield sun shades, which reflect solar heat away from the cabin.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Recycling Around the World

Recycling Around the World
Nov 9, 2011

November 15 is America Recycles Day, an annual event launched in 1997 by the National Recycling Coalition. The need to reuse and recycle raw materials has never been as urgent as it is today. The human race has reached a worldwide population of 7 billion, and America is responsible for consuming a disproportionate share of the planet's resources. In many parts of the world, recycling is done by necessity. In others, artists, governments, and businesses have found creative and useful ways to reuse materials -- a plastic bottle may find itself reborn as artwork, a warm blanket, or fuel oil. Collected here are photographs of various recycling efforts around the world, ranging from small and whimsical to industrial in scale.

If you go to the article, you’ll find 33 photos.  I just picked out a few to show you here:

A laborer rests on piles of plastic bottles at a recycling center in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, China, on November 6, 2011. (Reuters/Stringer)

A worker checks the finish on a motorcycle made from recycled materials from spare car and bicycle parts, at a workshop owned by Roongrojna Sangwongprisarn in Bangkok, on July 27, 2011. With four shops in Bangkok named "Ko Art Shop," Roongrojna also exports his artworks to clients all over the world. (Reuters/Sukree Sukplang)

Cavalo, 36, pulls his one-year-old son Joaquim Francisco in his baby stroller made of recycled wood in the financial center of Sao Paulo, on October, 26 2011. (Reuters/Nacho Doce)

A man burns computer scrap in order to retrieve metal from it that will be used to make soldering wire in a makeshift workshop in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 20, 2011. (Reuters/Athar Hussain)

Monday, August 6, 2012

How To Clean Outdoor Furniture

Okay – this one is a little long but you can drop down to the type furniture you have.  You can also save this as a reference.

How To Clean Outdoor Furniture
Author: Melissa Maker
With the warmer weather here, we cannot help but fantasize about summer barbeques, al fresco lunches and lounging on our decks and patios.  But before we can enjoy the weather, the dreaded task of outdoor cleaning must be completed! 
I know that most of us hate cleaning (or have a penchant for not doing it), but ultimately love the feeling of a clean home – whether it’s an indoor or outdoor space.  Here is a quick how-to guide that will have your patio furniture looking spiffy in a jiffy.
With a few basic cleaning recipes and tools you likely already have at home, cleaning the furniture can be a breeze (now that patio season is in full swing).
To start, you’ll need double-sided scrub sponges and scrub brushes.  The ones I've found work best (read: save time, last longer and work better than others) are Scotch-BriteTM tools; they are stronger and power through the backyard dirt better than other brands. 
The recipes we'll use involve vinegar, dish soap and water. These ingredients keep the yard safer for the “users” of your lawn (small insects, birds household pets), and it won’t discolour or rust your furniture like certain chemicals can.
Plastic, Resin Wicker, Steel/Metal and Fabric Outdoor Furniture Cleaning Recipe
·        1/2 cup of dish soap
·       1 cup of vinegar
·       2 gallons of warm water
Recommended Tools
·         Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge – (Blue) (Dual sided scrub sponge – sponge/scour)
·       Household Scrubber (brush with handle)
·     Garden hose
·         Bucket
·       Spray bottle
Mix these ingredients together in a large bucket and fill a clean spray bottle with the solution.  Prior to applying the solution, use the Household Scrubber to loosen dirt or debris by gently brushing off anything easy to remove from the surface (it will mean less scrubbing later on). Remove any cushions, these will be cleaned separately.
Spray the solution liberally onto each piece.  Let the mixture sit on the furniture for a few moments (5-10 minutes). If the solution has dried, re-spray the area.  For lightly soiled pieces, use the Scotch-BriteTM brand cellulose sponge to remove dirt, for heavily soiled pieces use the Non-Scratch Scour Pad, which is specifically designed for removing build-up without scratching the surface (this is key to maintaining the furniture).  For woven pieces such as resin wicker, use the Household Scrubber to 'brush out' the dirt.  Rinse the sponge often so that dirt is not re-distributed back onto the furniture.  Hose the pieces down until all suds are gone to avoid any lingering residue on the furniture.  Then, let the sun do the rest and air-dry them beautifully for you. 
Outdoor Fabric and Upholstered Pieces
Cleaning rugged cushiofned pieces with permanent covers
First, brush any debris off with the dry Household Scrubber. Spray the solution onto the cushions liberally and allow it to sit for 15 minutes.  This will allow the product to saturate the material and break down dirt.  Wipe soiled areas well with the Cellulose Sponge to agitate and lift the dirt up.  We're using cellulose here so that it can lift the dirt up without ruining the fabric of the cushions (a scouring pad could).  Ensure both sides have been cleaned this way.  After 15 minutes have passed, hose down both sides of the piece and lay it flat to dry in the sunshine.  Flip the cushions over when the top is dry so that the bottom side can dry as well.  If the covers cannot be washed down for whatever reason, take a shop-vac out and vacuum up debris to keep it clean.  When necessary, stains can be spot cleaned with warm, soapy water and a clean cloth.
Cleaning cushions with removable canvas slipcovers
These can be cleaned twice a season.  Remove slipcovers and place in the wash with regular laundry detergent on a regular cycle.  When the slipcovers come out of the wash (i.e. do not place in the dryer), place them back onto the cushions to re-shape and stretch the covers out.  This is an important step to ensure that the cushion covers maintain their shape.
Cleaning outdoor pillows and cushions
These pillows and cushions can be cleaned annually, usually at the beginning of the season.  Most are machine washable (if they fit into the washer).  Place them in the wash on a gentle cycle and tumble dry on low.  Toss a couple of tennis balls in the dryer to help beat out the excess moisture and promote quick drying.
Cleaning outdoor umbrellas
If you notice mildew on the umbrella, act fast and clean it well to prevent more growth.  The simple way to accomplish this is to brush off as much mildew as possible using the Scotch-BriteTM brand Household Scrubber and then spray the umbrella with a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water onto the affected area.  Leave it for 30 minutes to soak.  Take a clean Household Scrubber and remove the remaining mildew from the umbrella by gently scrubbing.  Hose it down when done to remove the solution and mildew.  Re-spray the area with the vinegar and water solution to protect against mildew build up and repeat this monthly.  In fact, this is a safe solution that can be sprayed on all outdoor furniture to keep mildew away.   Otherwise, clean the umbrella at the beginning of the season by brushing off any loose debris, spraying the interior and exterior well with the solution, soaking it for 15 minutes and then hosing it down.  Leave open to dry for at least a (sunny) day.
Teak, Wood and Wicker Furniture Cleaning Recipe
·     1 tablespoon of dish soap
·     1 gallons of warm water
Recommended Tools
·       Cellulose Sponge
·        Household Scrubber
·         Garden hose
·        Bucket
For teak and wicker furniture, try a gentler method.  Use a dry Household Scrubber brush to quickly dust off any loose debris.  Then, dip the clean Household Scrubber brush into the bucket and gently scrub away the dirt and debris, being especially careful not to scrub too hard on the wicker (or else it can lose its shape).  If being gentle is of great concern, use the Scotch-BriteTM brand cellulose sponge instead of the Household Scrubber.  Hose the surface off when done to remove all bubbles and residue.  Only apply oil to teak if the manufacturer's instructions call for it, usually to maintain the amber glow it needs to be re-oiled about twice annually.  If not, it becomes weathered and silvery.  
Again, it is crucial to use strong tools and gentle products for this job.  Strong products can ruin the furniture and your lawn and weaker tools will require more effort and will likely become ruined during the process (and say goodbye to your enthusiasm for this project)!
For regular maintenance, nothing more than a quick spray from the garden hose once a week is all that is needed to maintain the furniture throughout the season.  Keep your furniture, your lawn and your own little ecosystem clean by employing these simple patio furniture cleaning techniques!

Melissa Maker is Naturally Savvy’s Eco-Friendly Cleaning Expert and  the owner and operator of Clean My Space, which focuses on cleaning condo suites for busy urbanites.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

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